News from the Global South

Women in Japan Were Told Not To Wear Glasses to Work

Gulf News, Japan, 11/9/2019

In recent reports by Japan's Nippon TV and Business Insider Japan, women from a range of industries described being instructed by their employers not to wear glasses. One receptionist recalled being told that glasses for her were not allowed, while a male receptionist was permitted to don corrective eyewear, Business Insider reported. Glasses can give a ‘cold impression’, or cover up one's makeup, or just aren't liked by the boss, the women interviewed by the news organisations cited as the reasons they were told to avoid glasses at work. The reports have touched a nerve among Japanese women tired of having their bodies scrutinised and regulated in ways that they say their male counterparts are not, and many took to social media to protest.

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'Wave of Hope' to End FGM in Ethiopia as Activist Pioneer Dies

Reuters, Ethiopia, 11/6/2019

Ethiopian activist Bogaletch Gebre - feted for almost eradicating female genital mutilation in her home region - has died, her organisation said on November 6, 2019, as activists vowed to push on with her work. The former scientist and marathon runner’s quiet revolution has saved tens of thousands of girls from potential injury or death in Ethiopia, which has the world’s second highest FGM rate - at 65% - after Egypt, data from anti-FGM charity 28TooMany shows. World leaders have pledged to end FGM under the global development goals agreed in 2015, and with the passing of Gebre, advocacy groups have decided to take forward her work by supporting grassroots activists to tackle the practice of FGM in their communities.

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Govt Set to Ease Abortion Rules

The Tribune - New Delhi, India, 11/6/2019

An amendment to India’s 48-year-old abortion law is currently awaiting Union Cabinet clearance with the Ministry of Health having finalised the draft law at its end. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill 2019 proposes reforms to the original legislation of 1971 and changing existing abortion rules for certain groups of women, which will include victims of rape and incest; single mothers, widows, and women confronting life threatening foetal complications and abnormalities. The existing MTP Act 1971 does not allow abortions beyond the foetal age of 20 weeks for anyone. Though the Centre had initially been resistant to amending abortion laws at all, the Health Ministry, after comprehensive consultations, agreed to relax the rigid 20-week ceiling for abortions, for some groups of women.

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Singapore Cracks Down on ‘Pop-Up’ Brothels in Rented Flats Amid Spike in Online Prostitution

South China Morning Post, Singapore, 11/5/2019

Singapore’s parliament on November 4, 2019, passed a law designed to crack down on ‘pop-up brothels’ appearing in rented flats in the Singapore heartlands. The onus will now be placed on homeowners and tenants who let or sublet their properties to conduct identity checks on potential tenants or subtenants, and they can be privy to police prosecution if the property they are renting out is found to be a ‘pop-up brothel’. While sex work itself isn’t illegal in Singapore, various activities linked to sex work – like maintaining a brothel – is criminalised. This law will further stigmatise sex work, and some MPs in parliament even raised concerns on the feasibility of conducting checks on tenants, while others asked whether this compromises the safety of sex workers.

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Tough Laws Sharply Reduce Bangladesh Acid Attacks on Women

Straits Times, Bangladesh, 11/4/2019

Acid attacks on women have declined dramatically in Bangladesh in recent years as tough laws and the closer monitoring of chemical sales have cut down the grisly crime, officials and activists said on November 4, 2019. According to the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF), there have been just eight such attacks in 2019 - well down from the 494 cases reported in 2002 when new laws were enacted. The crime first emerged in the 1990s, with scores of jilted men throwing sulphuric or nitric acid in the faces of women who rebuffed their advances to ‘spoil them’ for anyone else. Victims sustained lifelong injuries, and faced social stigma. Officials and experts attributed the declining rate of this crime to a coordinated social, legal, and administrative campaign.

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